Lyman-Morse will ask for a zoning change to allow marinas in Camden’s outer harbor, while moving forward on plans to develop a private outer harbor marina, a pier at Steamboat landing, and public access along the shore.

The company has backed away from a proposal pitched to the Select Board in March that involved a partnership with town government.

Will Gartley, representing Lyman-Morse, explained the company is simplifying the plan. It is stepping back from the partnership proposal, and asking for changes to harbor and zoning ordinances in order to allow marinas to be built, he said at the Sept. 7 Select Board meeting.

He expects the proposed changes would go through the local review process by the Harbor Committee, Planning Board and Select Board, leading up to the required public vote. The company is going to work hard to have this ready for a vote in June, Gartley said.

There will also be review by the State Department of Environmental Protection and Federal Army Corps.

The marina plan has not changed from what was proposed earlier, he said.

In March, the marina was described as including a 148-foot pier and dock to be built at Steamboat Landing, with an accessible 80-foot gangway; a 267-foot wave-attenuating floating dock that will protect Steamboat Landing; and a 539-foot floating dock for side-tie dockage and nine 40-foot finger docks for transient yachts. In the original plan, but no longer included, was town ownership of the pier as well as tax increment financing incentives.

Lyman-Morse is asking for changes to both the harbor and zoning ordinance, because these ordinances do not allow, mention or even have a definition for a marina, Gartley said.

He has drafted language for an ordinance change and supplied this to Planning and Development Director Jeremy Martin “to see if we’re in agreement.”

Vice Chair Alison McKellar questioned how much was being asked of Martin’s time, and whether the proposed ordinance changes should be discussed before his time is invested.

“My concern is it puts staff in an awkward position to put in a lot of work and have it presented as a partnership proposal with the town before the public or harbor committee or any of us have had a chance to talk about whether we want to allow marinas such as this,” she said.

Martin clarified that anyone has a right to put forth zoning amendments. The proposed amendments are requested by an entity with property on the harbor, and is not a town-proposed zoning change, he said. He explained Lyman-Morse will be paying for the ordinance amendment process, and cited another amendment process initiated and paid for by Chip Laite, to expand an existing building on Belfast Road.

Board member Marc Ratner mentioned the board heard in previous presentations that there was a time urgency. He asked what happened with that.

Gartley said the urgency still exists. Lyman-Morse has a boating infrastructure grant it has three years to utilize.

“If there was a vote that allowed a marina to happen, there’s still quite a long  process to go to get that constructed,” he said. If the ordinances is approved, it gives Lyman-Morse the right to do this, go forward with the process, and utilize the grant, he said.

McKellar asked where people can go to see the proposed marina plan, and suggested posting on the town website. She talked about “a perception out there that this is a joint town Lyman-Morse initiative that has been cooked up and is being pitched.”

Falciani said new board members Matt Siegel and Sophie Romana had not seen the plan.

Gartley said the plan had been given to the town previously, and pointed out that he was at the meeting to give a heads up that the focus has changed. “We’re not asking for approval of a plan at this stage,” he said.

He countered the idea that the town was being asked to join as a partner.

“It’s intended to be a private marina,” he said. Lyman Morse is not giving up on providing public access, we are giving up on the partnership. Any plan the company produces now will not have had feedback that will come from federal and state agencies. He described the current plan as “a concept we’re using to base ordinance changes on.”

Falciani asked Martin to again clarify this is now a project being proposed to the town, like any other, which will go through the same process as any other project in the town, with the addition of the state and federal requirements.

Romana asked for the steps that need to be completed in a workplan.

“For us new board members, it would be helpful to have information up front instead of putting us in a reactive position.”

She called for transparency on the process so everybody in Camden can know the future steps.

McKellar said voters would not necessarily have the ability to weigh in on the final project, if the ordinance is changed.

“Once you change an ordinance to allow certain kinds of projects, the Planning Board gets to review it, and can only review certain criteria,” she said.

She talked about how sea level rise could not be addressed by the Planning Board when it reviewed the Lyman Morse project to rebuild its boatwork, office, restaurant, distillery, and retail complex on Camden Harbor after a fire.